The yearly regional Society for Women Engineer’s conference came and went in late February. Upon learning that I was attending the event, our talent acquisition team reached out for Career Fair support. Since I’ve done this in the past and it’s a great way to seek out talent for our own site, I volunteered for a couple of hours.
As the women engineers were approaching our booth, I could not help but reflect on my days in college. Some of these women were in their freshmen year and asking great questions in year one. I was still grasping the idea of being in the engineering school and trying to stay ahead of my course work back then. Although some of the questions were challenging, some got on my nerves.
Prior to attending a career fair, create your plan of which companies you want to visit and do a little research. It’s okay to walk up to a booth to ask more about the mission but it doesn’t quite look so good when you walk up and say “what do you guys do?”
Our talent acquisition team is limited, which is why our engineers are volunteering. With 10-20 people walking up per hour, we would rather listen to what you can bring to the table rather you hear our elevator speech. As the two hours passed, I found myself repeating the same key messages that I would like to document here.
Why work here
When researching a company, look up its value or mission. What connection can make you with their mission? In a competitive world, you need to be driven and have a reason to outperform your team members on a day to day basis. If you’re not content with what the company provides to the world or environment, you won’t be very successful in your role.
If you’ve read something online that interested you, it’s okay to follow up with more specifics at a career fair, such as “I read a patient story on a website and wondered how you contributed to that in your daily role.”
What work would you
Ask “how can I apply my degree to serve your mission” rather than “are there opportunities for Blank Engineers at this company.” I was asked the latter question at least five times during the fair.
In a cross functional world where Systems Engineering is the core of all successful applications, it is critical to have a diverse group of individuals in a room. Granted, we need an electrical engineer to complete an Integrated Circuit design but once it’s manufactured we need a packaging engineer to get it from one facility to another and safely, where the packaging engineer could be an industrial, mechanical, or even civil engineer, by degree.
At the end of the day, it is about the final result and the applications you took to achieve that result. Since I joined the New Product Introduction team, approximately thirty percent of my workload is mechanical engineering (and I'm system/industrial by degree).
As I learned from the Boeing keynote, "the best talent is diverse talent."
Why hire you
Prepare your elevator speech. With conference attendees ranging from 200-8000 people, you have, on average, three minutes to tell us why we should hire you. As you walk up to the booth, state your name and your current rank/degree in school or your profession. Talk about one or two key accomplishments and why you want to join our company.
If you can distinguish yourself amongst hundreds or even thousands of people, you have an in with the company.
Conferences are great for learning, benchmarking and socializing. If you set just one hour aside to plan your time at the conference, you will be successful in walking out with your money's worth. And hey, you may even get a job interview out of it.